From Black Widow to Betty Ross: Ranking Marvel's female movie characters
(CBR) So, obviously this is spurred by "Guardians of the Galaxy," which came out last weekend, which demolished all August film openings, which I saw this weekend, and which was, as everyone has already been telling you, pretty much awesome.
But you don’t need another post about that, you’ve seen it all before, there’s nothing new I can tell you. This movie is like pure joy, bottled and delivered directly into your soul. It’s not perfect but it’s fun, funny, and a great example of how super complicated ideas and utterly bizarre characters and concepts can be made “new viewer” friendly and yet still appeal to fans. It’s a success all around.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
The biggest problem with the film is the after credits stinger which is basically a worthless joke. It’s fine that it’s a joke and it’s not a bad little laugh, but for people that were hoping against hope for a Black Widow or Captain Marvel stinger hinting at a solo adventure (Captain Marvel especially since that would be fitting for the cosmic/GotG galaxy film we’d just seen) it’s REAL downer of a stinger.
As the movie release approached and nothing leaked I (and others like me) slowly accepted that this Widow or Captain Marvel Stinger was not going to happen. I still managed to hope we’d get an announcement at SDCC, but it was not to be.
We not only didn’t get the announcement we’d all been hoping for, but we got some relatively awful news on "Ant-Man" regarding female characters (short version: Janet Van Dyne/The Wasp’s immediate future looks rather grim). Feige said some intelligent things recently about superhero movies and about Hollywood in general that give one confidence, but when it comes to superheroine films Feige (and co.) remain incredibly vague on the subject. Supportive but vague. There’s been MORE than enough time for us to move well past vague. We’re two years out from the MASSIVE success of "The Avengers" and that’s more than enough time to get your ducks in a row and at least put a team together and make an announcement.
Hell, we all know that the massive success that is "Lucy" should have been a little movie called "BLACK WIDOW." And I hope the success of that film (which I have not yet seen) has Marvel very seriously looking at all the money they have flushed down the toilet. And no, I don’t believe that money will always be there. We are quickly heading to saturation/oversaturation point on superhero films (if we’re not already there). Sure, they’re not going to stop being made, and thanks to demand for these kind of action/high effects film in the foreign market, they’ve got a longer life expectancy, but people are going to burn out on them and they will reach a natural nadir at which point production will slow down and become more difficult.
So, as I’ve said before, the time for a lady led superhero film is NOW. Time for some of these people to get serious. And Marvel should certainly be taking advantage of the opening DC has given them with Wonder Woman to get there first in this new age of superhero films (our last “literal superheroine film” was 2005′s "Elektra," before the 2008 boom that "Iron Man" created…unless you count this month’s "Lucy"…which…maybe we should? I dunno, she doesn’t ever like don a costume, but she definitely has powers and at some points fights bad guys? So I don’t know…maybe it qualifies as “superhero” instead of just “action”?). Anyway, Marvel should move heaven and earth to beat DC to the table. And listen, I have serious skin in the game. I’m more than happy for my little indie book about superheroes to be the first “new” female led “superhero film” (god, that would be awesome) but I really shouldn’t get there first. There’s no reason on Earth I – a nobody – should get there “first.”
So below is a rundown and ranking of the most significant roles for women in the Marvel films to date. And before you get to thinking that 11 (relatively) significant roles for women over the course of ten films isn’t so bad, consider that in those same 10 films there have been (by my rough count) more than 45 equally significant roles for men to the ones listed below for the ladies. That’s…not great, especially as a single female led film continues to elude us.
But we’re here to rank the existing ladies in prominent roles in the existing films, so let’s get to it. We’ll start at the bottom and work our way to number one!
Quickly though: let’s talk about the elephant in the room, not the lack of female leads which we’ve already well covered, no, the OTHER elephant in the room. Every single woman on this list is white (and no, green and blue don’t count toward diversity). It IS great that Zoe Saldana is a Hispanic actress and is one of the biggest female leads to date, but since she’s playing a green alien, it doesn’t count toward diversifying the list of characters, even if it does count toward diversifying the actresses.
It’s doubly frustrating to realize that even if we got our dream and got a female led film (or two!) announced, they would likely be white women as well – the most likely candidates discussed (and well positioned) are Captain Marvel and Black Widow, both white. Other names that we regularly see bandied about and discussed are usually white too – She-Hulk and The Wasp are two I frequently see mentioned. And we already have our newest female “love interest/supporting cast” announced in the form of Evangeline Lilly in "Ant-Man" – again, white.
Comics has a real problem with diversity and it’s something that’s being exported into the films. I hope some of the very smart people making these films see the problem and are doing their best to make sure they course correct.
I suppose we could solve basically ALL our problems with a "Nextwave: Agents of HATE" film starring Monica Rambeau. It would be like an even crazier R-rated version of "Guardians of the Galaxy"…who’s with me?!?
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